Structuring of NAAIRS Queries

Retrieval of records in NAAIRS is effected by the use of search words. As no controlled vocabulary such as that contained in authority lists or thesauri is used in the preparation of the data, the user is free to formulate appropriate search words independently.  Usually the names of persons and places are used, as well as subjects. It should be noted however that any word or character string (such as a reference number or date) in a record in NAAIRS may serve as a keyword to effect retrieval.

It is important to emphasise that generally the descriptions of archival items given in NAAIRS, and particularly those relating to correspondence files, are those allocated by the offices which generated the records. In formulating search words, it would therefore be appropriate to attempt to replicate the terminology that would probably have been used in the context of public administration rather than, say, the academic analysis of a matter. As a significant proportion of the records in NAAIRS are in Afrikaans, as are the archives to which they refer, retrieval on the basis of subjects will in some cases not be complete without the addition of search words in Afrikaans.

In NAAIRS upper and lower case letters are regarded being equivalent. It is therefore not necessary to capitalise any search words. Lower case may be used throughout.

It is sufficient to use a single keyword. Where combinations of search words are used for greater precision in retrieval, the search words need to be linked with operators which indicate the relationship between the search words. NAAIRS has been designed to prompt the user and to indicate all the options available. For clarity, explanations of the operators available, and examples of queries are given below.


a Adjacent b

Records having a and b immediately adjacent, with no words in between, in the order given.

a AND b

Records having a and b anywhere in the record.

a NEAR b

Identical to ADJ except that a and b may occur in either order.

a NOT b

Records which contain a but not b.

a OR b

Records which contain either a or b, or both a and b.


albert and luthuli
rock and paintings

albert Adjacent luthuli
rock Adjacent paintings

moshesh or moshoeshoe or moshweshwe

mining not gold

albert near luthuli